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Ahmadinejad: Iranian Nuclear Program Not Slowed


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that, contrary to recent news reports, Tehran has not slowed its nuclear activity. In a lengthy news conference in the Iranian capital, the president also warned Iran would respond if the United States goes ahead with plans to label the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization. VOA's Sonja Pace has more on the story from our Middle East bureau in Cairo.

Speaking to reporters in Tehran, President Ahmadinejad said the case is closed.

He said Iran has the right to develop nuclear energy and will continue to do so, despite the efforts of some western countries to prevent it.

President Ahmadinejad said that Iran is a nuclear country, and that means it possesses the whole nuclear-fuel cycle.

He also described as false, reports in the news that Iran has slowed its uranium-enrichment activities.

The Iranian leader repeated his government's insistence that it is pursuing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes only, not for nuclear weapons as the United States and many other nations contend.

President Ahmadinejad also had another word of caution for the United States.

He said it would be illogical for the United States to go ahead with plans to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization. He said the United States knows that Iran would respond, but he did not provide details on what that response might be.

Washington has long accused the Revolutionary Guards of supporting terrorism and training terrorists, including in Iraq and Lebanon.

On the issue of Iraq, President Ahmadinejad said Iran supports the Iraqi government. He said the situation there, however, is becoming increasingly precarious. He warned of a growing and imminent power vacuum in Iraq, which he said Iran was ready to help fill.

Washington has long called for Iran to play a more positive role to help stabilize Iraq, but fears that Tehran will be all too eager to step into any gap to increase its own influence in Iraq and the region.